What is your favorite Apollo memory?
I find it extremely hard to think of one. I have a lot of memorable moments. The Apollo seemed to me like a mythical place that recalled the great legends like Ella Fitzgerald and the superheroes of my teenage years behind the Iron Curtain, Prince and Michael Jackson. So when I came upon the Apollo Theater while walking home from City College, in the nineties, I could hardly contain my excitement that the place was real.
Over the next few years my college classmates taught me the power of inspiration and reinvigoration through the performing arts and the Apollo’s central place in the community. I had experienced the potential of theatre as a life-giving force growing up in an authoritarian regime, where theatre was among the few places where dissent could be voiced, however subtly, as part of a work of art. At the Apollo I learned about the power of transformation through music. No matter what is going on, after a night at the Apollo, life, in all its facets, is beautiful.
Why do you give to the Apollo and how do you feel when you give a gift?
I think there is not enough support for the arts in the US period. It is abysmal how little the role of art is appreciated as part of a normal, good life. The upside of the almost total lack of government funding under any administration, is that private funding allows for concentration on the best institutions and organizations and everyone is throwing their money at what they feel like gets the most returns (whether that means for the donor's personal self-interest or for the cause). My hope is that Trump's assault on what little infrastructure there was will have the unintended effect of people realizing the role of government in creating space where art becomes possible.